ROXBURY, NJ - Roxbury residents who live near Lake Hopatcong will be among 16 people chosen to receive rebates for building "rain gardens" on their property this year, said the Lake Hopatcong Commission (LHC).

A rain garden is a collection of native shrubs, perennials and flowers, planted in a small depression, designed to temporarily hold and soak in rainwater runoff from impermeable surfaces such as roofs, driveways and patios. The goal is to effectively control pollution and mitigate flooding.

A free educational webinar on the basics of rain garden installation will be presented March 3, at noon and 7 p.m. It will be hosted by the LHC in partnership with the Lake Hopatcong Foundation (LHF) and the Rutgers Cooperative Extension Water Resources Program.

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Along with the webinar, participants will have an opportunity to schedule a free, 30-minute virtual consultation in which they can work one-on-one with a Rutgers landscape architect to plan a customized rain garden for their property.

Sixteen participants from Jefferson, Hopatcong, Mount Arlington or Roxbury, who reside within the Lake Hopatcong watershed, will be eligible to receive a rebate of up to $450 after installation of a rain garden and inspection by the Rutgers team.

"This is a wonderful opportunity for residents within the Lake Hopatcong watershed to not only learn about the benefits of rain gardens, but also to get assistance in the planning and expense of adding a rain garden to their yards," said LHC Administrator Colleen Lyons.

"Rain gardens are a great step for homeowners who want to be able to do something positive for Lake Hopatcong's water quality," said LHF Grants and Program Director Donna Macalle-Holly. "The goal of this program is to install at least 16 gardens within the Lake Hopatcong watershed by the end of this year.”

Landing residents Pete and Sara Buonomo took part in the program last spring, installing a rain garden in a flood-prone area of their property and receiving the rebate upon completion.

"When we first moved into our home and the warm weather came around, it was very clear we had a drainage issue," explained Sara Buonomo. "Neither my husband nor I knew what a rain garden even was, but after attending the hour-long seminar it was clear we had the answer to our problems.

"We scheduled the follow up, proceeded with the plans created, and a few weeks later, voila, a scary, uneven, flood-prone backyard was turned into a beautiful rain garden oasis. All in all, it was a wonderful experience, which was beneficial to us, our neighbors and, most importantly, the environment.”

Funding for the project was provided through a Harmful Algal Bloom Grant from the state Department of Environmental Protection awarded to the LHC in partnership with the LHF, along with other project partners, to evaluate innovative technologies to control, prevent, or mitigate harmful algal blooms on Lake Hopatcong.

For more information or to register for the webinar, visit lakehopatcongcommission.org.